The Supreme Court denied Kelli Ward, the chairwoman of the Arizona Republican Party, a request to block a subpoena from a House panel investigating the Jan. 6, 2021, riot at the U.S. Capitol for her phone records on Monday.
Ward’s emergency request for the Supreme Court’s intervention was denied, paving the way for her phone company, T-Mobile, to comply with the subpoena and turn over the call records sought by House investigators. Justices Clarence Thomas and Samuel Alito said they would have granted Ward’s request to stop the select committee’s subpoena.
Ward petitioned the Supreme Court after a three-judge panel of the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit declined to block the subpoena for telephone metadata, such as phone numbers, text messages, and call duration, from November 2020 to January 2021.
Ward’s lawyers described the panel’s demand for records from a state party chair as a “first-of-its-kind situation,” issued by a congressional committee largely comprised of members from the opposing party. They claimed the subpoena violated her First Amendment rights to association.
“If Dr. Ward’s phone and text message records are made public, congressional investigators will contact everyone who communicated with her during and immediately after the 2020 election. That is not speculation; it is a given. The committee has no other reason to seek this information “Ward’s attorneys claimed. “Nothing chills public participation in partisan politics more than a call, visit, or subpoena from federal investigators.”
However, House lawyers urged the Supreme Court to allow investigators to obtain Ward’s call records, which they said would aid in the investigation of the events leading up to and on Jan. 6.
“The false narrative of a stolen election motivated violence on January 6th,” they said, citing her amplification of false claims about the integrity of the 2020 election and participation in a scheme to send a slate of “alternate” electors casting their Electoral College votes for Trump to Congress.
Ward testified in front of the House committee in mid-March, but she invoked her Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination.
“These records will shed light on how Dr. Ward contributed to the multi-part effort to disrupt the peaceful transition of power and the attack on the United States Capitol,” the lawyers for the select committee told the Supreme Court.
Ward, they continued, “aided a coup attempt” in the days and weeks following the 2020 election, culminating in her participation in the fake-elector scheme.
The select committee, which has two Republicans among its nine members, has interviewed over 1,000 people as part of its investigation into the events of January 6, and has held nine public hearings this year.
House investigators have issued subpoenas to Trump’s top White House aides, including his former chief of staff Mark Meadows, campaign officials, and Trump himself, as part of their investigation.
In January, the committee issued a subpoena to T-Mobile for records associated with Ward’s phone number, but she asked a federal court to vacate the order. The U.S. district court and 9th Circuit, however, said the House panel could obtain the records.
After Ward requested that the Supreme Court intervene, Justice Elena Kagan temporarily halted T-Mobile from turning over the phone records, preserving the status quo while the Supreme Court considered her request. The Supreme Court’s new order nullifies the interim stay.
The House committee’s investigation is one of several looking into Trump’s efforts to halt the transfer of power and the violent attack on the United States Capitol, which has resulted in lawsuits from former president’s allies when investigators have sought their testimony or records.
Senator Lindsey Graham, a Republican from South Carolina, asked the Supreme Court to prevent him from testifying before a grand jury in Fulton County, Georgia, but the court denied his request.
Trump asked the Supreme Court last year to stop the National Archives and Records Administration from turning over his White House records to the House panel, but the justices refused.